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Maggie Brown's Intertextuality - Homer's Odyssey to Joyce's Ulysses

"Ulysses Through The Ages"
by

Maggie Brown

on 15 April 2015

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Transcript of Maggie Brown's Intertextuality - Homer's Odyssey to Joyce's Ulysses

Ulysses Through The Ages
A Timeline from Homer to Joyce
Diachronic Texts
A text that engages with history over time.

Literature that interacts across time and cultures.
The Odyssey
by Homer

Conventions, Archetypes, and Tropes
Homer's Goal
Through The Odyssey, Homer sought to encompass the Greek culture and race with his collection of myths, culture, songs, and stories derived from oral culture.
The Epic Hero
The Journey Home
The Blind Bard
The Odyssey is one of the first works that emphasizes the "epic hero."

Noble, brave, respected, proud, strong, strategic, wise, courageous, powerful, cunning are all adjectives associated with this literally "epic" hero.

He learns from his mistakes, overcomes obstacles, and remains dignified and respected by all. For Odysseus in particular, he values his friends and family, protects and loves his home.
Who wouldn't want this guy as your Dad?!
Home is the goal. Odysseus fights always with Ithaca in mind as well as his wife Penelope and son Telemachus.
During the journey, you face many obstacles but overcome them while learning life long lessons. Very after-school special, I know.
The wise, blind bard has become a symbol for Homer whether it is accurate or just for gimmick.

The Storyteller/Bard is one convention The Odyssey is known for.
Virgil's Aeneid
After hearing about Homer's great idea to encompass Greek culture into one single literary artifact, Virgil thought "Hey, I wanna do that, too!
So just like those copy cat Romans would do, Virgil wrote the Aeneid, basically the same exact story with Aeneas instead of Odysseus.
However, he did include Odysseus, but as the much less honorable and brave Ulysses.
Dante's Inferno
Tennyson's "Ulysses"
Cavafy's "Ithaka"
Joyce's Ulysses
O Brother, Where
Art Thou?
The Future for The Odyssey?
The Odyssey is always being reinvented or sampled whether it be poetry, drama, fiction, or other media such as film.

Its tropes, archetypes, and conventions constantly reappear in new forms and solidify this text as diachronic and inexhaustible,
hence why we teach it so much.

Virgil did not particularly care for Ulysses, aka he damned him to the 8th circle of Hell.

Ulysses is a liar, schemer, and coward for his actions in the Trojan War with Achilles and Athena's Palladium.

He's not the Greek warrior so commonly known-- instead he's obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge, without caring about who he must selfishly sacrifice to obtain it.

He does die in the sea and never reaches Ithaca.
Virgil: "There within are tormented Ulysses and Diomed, and thus together they go in punishment, as of old in wrath. And within their flame they groan for the ambush of the horse that made the gate, whence the gentle seed of the Romans issued forth. Within it they lament for the artifice whereby the dead Deidamia still mourns for Achilles, and there for the Palladium they bear the penalty."

Ulysses: "Consider ye your origin; ye were not made to live as brutes, but for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.'...Three times it made her whirl with all the waters, the fourth it made her stern lift up, and the prow go down, as pleased Another, till the sea had closed over us."
From the Inferno
Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Ulysses" (1842) responsed to Dante's Inferno as he glorifies Ulysses for what Dante damned him for.

The poem picks up with Ulysses after he has returned home, his reflections on his life, and his restlessness for travel and knowledge.

1840s historical reference: the British nation involved in imperialism and colonization.

Themes include: Moving forward from the past, Conquest and unrest, and Nationalism.
From "Ulysses"
"To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the wester stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew."

"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
From "Ithaca"
Constantine Cavafy, "Ithaka" (1910) uses The Journey Home convention.

Celebration of living for the now because you know there is an end---an understanding of the fact of death that we cannot choose or change.

The journey is more important than the end goal or point.
"As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon--don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find the things like that on your way
as long as you keep thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body."

"Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich."
(1922) James Joyce/Stephen Dedalus' goal as he leaves Ireland at the end of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is "to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race" just as Homer intended with the Odyssey to encompass the Greek culture and race.

Joyce adapts a very literal interpretation of The Odyssey with character alignment such as Leopold Bloom as Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus as Telemachus, Molly Bloom as Penelope, Bella as Circe, and he uses names and places from the Odyssey to divide the chapters of Ulysses.
Of course, this Odyssey occurs on the streets of Dublin and Joyce reinvents The Odyssey in Modernism fashion in order to accurately represent the nitty gritty image of Ireland, its people, and culture.
For example, the Sirens scene that occurs here.
Although many movie adaptations have been made with cheap effects and super models, the Coen Brothers create a loosely based Odyssey story within this movie, which is actually good.(2000)
Omeros
An epic poem by Caribbean author, Derek Walcott, who claims it borrows The Odyssey's epic structure.
Omeros questions the national identity of St. Lucia, a French then British colony with a majority African population.
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